Monday, March 07, 2005

Are you falling for the hype?

Don’t be seduced by the subtle ploys of the system you unwittingly support.

“When Marx and Engels first developed a critique of ideology, the Anglo-European popular classes were largely illiterate agricultural or first-generation urban workers, there was no universal public education or political suffrage, no technology of mass entertainment, and one social institution – religion – that influenced every cultural practice and offered everyone – in discourses, rituals and images – an explanation/ justification of the world and society. Thus, the first Marxist attempt to understand ideology … tended to conflate a critique of ideology with criticism of idealism … We now understand … ideology is less tenacious as “a set of ideas” than as a system of representations, perceptions, and images that precisely encourages men and women to “see” their specific place in a historically peculiar social formation as inevitable, natural, a necessary function of the “real” itself. This “seeing” precedes and underlies any ways in which social subjects “think about” social reality, and this “seeing” is as likely to be shaped through a relaxed fascination with the page or the screen as through any serious attention to [ideas].”

James H. Kavanagh, “Ideology,” in Critical Terms for Literary Study (Lentricchia and McLaughlin, 1990)

Marx said that religion was the opiate of the masses - he hadn't seen anything yet! How does religion operate as an opiate today compared to Hollywood?